28 Oct 2020
BLUEPRINT SIGN OF DEMOCRATIC POLICYMAKING
When the Communist Party of China draws up the blueprint for the country's socioeconomic development for the next five years and beyond, people's concerns matter to its policymaking.
In drawing up the proposals for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), which are being discussed at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, the Party has extensively sought public opinions to make the plan more relevant to the country's reality and the people's desire to live a better life. President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, was deeply involved in the process.
In the past months, Xi held a series of meetings and symposiums to obtain opinions and suggestions on the new five-year plan from economists, social experts, entrepreneurs, scientists, professionals outside the Party and grassroots representatives.
For the first time in history, a two-week campaign was launched in August to seek public input online for drafting the plan. It received over 1 million opinions and suggestions from internet users on a wide range of topics, including social governance, technological innovation, rule of law, the healthcare system, job creation, rural vitalization, educational reforms and environmental protection. Some of them have been delivered to him, according to Xi.
Observers said that such a policymaking process, which is carried out in the formulation of the nation's development blueprint, reflects the practice of socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics, which was described by Xi as "a type of whole-process democracy". That means all major legislative decisions in the country are based on legal procedures and democratic discussions as well as scientific and democratic decision-making, according to Xi.
In a written instruction in August, Xi required combining top-level design and public opinions in compiling the 14th Five-Year Plan, and stressed the need to broaden channels for the public to express their opinions and offer their suggestions.
The compilation of five-year plans involves all aspects of economic and social development and is closely related to people's work and life, so people from all sectors of society should be encouraged to offer advice by diverse means so that social expectations, the wisdom of the people, expert advice and experience at the grassroots level could be integrated into the plan, Xi said.
While presiding over a symposium attended by grassroots-level representatives in Changsha, Hunan province, last month, Xi stressed that "realizing people's aspirations to live a better life is the goal we strive for", and he encouraged the public to offer advice and suggestions on compiling the plan through various channels to ensure that it responds to the wishes of the people and meets their expectations.
AMOREPACIFIC DOUBLES EXHIBITION AREA FOR 3RD CIIE
South Korean cosmetics group Amorepacific has doubled its exhibition area this year to showcase its 10 brands at the upcoming China International Import Expo, marking the third year in row of the company's attendance at the event.
The Seoul-headquartered cosmetic conglomerate entered the Chinese market in 1992 and introduced its Laneige and Sulwhasoo brands, which are popular among Chinese consumers.
This year, the world suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but people's pursuit of a beautiful life didn't change, said Charles Kao, China branch president of Amorepacific. "China, an important market to lead cosmetics trends, still has huge potential."
CIIE provides a platform for technological innovation, cooperation and exchange, and promotes the coordinated development of industrial chains to better serve and satisfy demand for the domestic consumption upgrade, he added.
INDUSTRIAL PROFITS UP 10.1% IN SEPTEMBER
The profits of China's major industrial enterprises grew 10.1 percent year-on-year in September, marking the fifth straight month of profit growth, as policy measures to offset the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak have achieved significant results, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.
Analysts said the uptick pointed to a sound recovery and the resilience of China's industrial economy, and the improvements in both supply and demand are likely to continue driving the sales of industrial companies in the coming months.
According to the bureau, the profits of China's industrial firms－large enterprises with an annual business turnover of at least 20 million yuan ($2.98 million)－reached 646.4 billion yuan last month.
Total industrial profits in the first nine months of this year fell 2.4 percent year-on-year to 4.37 trillion yuan, but the decline was 2 percentage points less than in the first eight months of this year.
Zhu Hong, a senior statistician with the bureau, said profit growth in September was aided by significant recoveries in key sectors, including the automobile manufacturing, nonferrous metal smelting, electricity and heat production and supply industries.
Automobile manufacturing, for instance, saw its profits surge as much as 53.8 percent year-on-year last month, Zhu said.
"Industrial production and sales recovered quickly, prompting profits to increase quarter by quarter, and the supply-demand relationship continued to improve," Zhu added.
The profit data came after the bureau announced earlier this month that industrial output rose by 6.9 percent on a yearly basis in September in China, the sixth consecutive month of growth.
Driven by the steady growth of industrial revenue, the profits of major industrial firms grew 15.9 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, marking a sharp rebound from a 36.7 percent decline seen in the first quarter, according to the bureau.
Qin Hailin, a senior industrial economy researcher at the China Center for Information Industry Development, said favorable government policies have played a positive role in helping industrial companies resume production and stabilize their supply chains. Meanwhile, the market demand for key products, such as automobiles, has rebounded.
Supportive measures, including tax and fee cuts as well as reductions in electricity, land and rental costs, have also effectively reduced the companies' overall operational costs, Qin said.
Zhu Jianfang, chief economist at CITIC Securities, said in a research note that since the start of the third quarter, the production and operating conditions of industrial enterprises have improved steadily, which has led to a significant improvement in their profits.
"The annual profits of China's major industrial enterprises are expected to post a slight positive growth for this year," Zhu said.
TOURISM FOCUS SHOULD BE DOMESTIC MARKET
For tourist sites and the tourist industry as a whole, an ideal situation would be balanced development of domestic tourism, and inbound and outbound tourism. But in reality, the pace of growth of the three markets is different owing to their different development stages and consumption capacities.
For years since the launch of reform and opening-up, the tourism industry focused on inbound tourism. The domestic tourism and outbound tourism sectors developed later, and their market scales were comparatively small. The development pattern began changing in the mid-1990s. During the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period, the outbound tourism market's scale was larger and its pace of growth higher than the inbound tourism market.
China accounts for the largest number of outbound tourists in the world; it is also the fourth-largest destination for foreign tourists. Had the novel coronavirus pandemic not broken out, by the end of this year the total numbers of domestic tourists, inbound tourists and outbound tourists were expected to increase by 108 percent, 97 percent and 118 percent respectively during the 13th Five Year Plan period.
The pandemic has changed the growth trajectory of the tourism and many other sectors. Yet under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and with the concerted efforts of the people and governments at all levels, China has effectively contained the virus, and resumed production and other economic activities.
The country's leadership has now decided to follow a "dual circulation" development pattern, which is centered on the domestic economy ("internal circulation") and aims to integrate the domestic economy with the global economy ("external circulation") in order to enhance China's global competitiveness and cooperation.
During the National Day Golden Week holiday, the number of domestic tourists was about 79 percent of last year, and the domestic tourism industry's income was 69.9 percent vis-à-vis last year－a remarkable recovery considering the huge impact of the pandemic.
Short-distance family trips were most popular during the Golden Week holiday, with museums, urban parks, commercial districts and suburban tourist sites being high on the tourists' list.
NEW SUBMERSIBLES TO MAKE SIGHTSEEING TOURS
Designers of China's latest domestically developed scientific submersible, the Fendouzhe, or Striver, are now striving for another goal: to offer underwater tours by submersible to members of the public.
This latest development comes as China prepares for manned expeditions for scientific exploration with Fendouzhe to the deepest part of the oceans－the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean.
The submersible was designed at the China Ship Scientific Research Center in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, a subsidiary of State-owned shipbuilding conglomerate China State Shipbuilding Corp that specializes in underwater equipment.
Chen Jiawei, from the center's technology and application department, said in an exclusive interview with China Daily that designers have developed two types of tourist submersibles and expect to use them for people interested in deep-sea diving.
"The smaller model, which we named Huandao Jiaolong, has been built and received approval for business operation from the maritime safety authorities," he said.
"Piloted by two operators, it can carry 10 tourists to a depth of 40 meters in an underwater journey that can last up to eight hours."
The 7.9-meter vehicle weighs 23.9 metric tons and has an underwater speed of about 1 knot.
The center's engineers are also constructing a larger type of vehicle, which has yet to be named, he said.
The new model's structure has been finished and engineers are installing equipment in it.
Once completed, the 16.3-meter submersible will be able to take 23 people－three pilots and 20 tourists－to a depth of 60 meters in a standard eight-hour trip, said its chief designer, who wished to be identified as Gao.
Gao added that the electrically propelled craft can also conduct underwater search and rescue missions as it will be able to remain underwater for as long as 72 hours.
Project managers plan to conduct a trial run in a reservoir in Guizhou province upon its completion and then decide its next destination, he said.
AI APPLICATIONS GATHER PACE IN MEDICAL FIELD
China's healthcare industry is finding increasingly sophisticated applications for artificial intelligence as it evolves from basic uses of AI, industry experts said.
Specialist AI enterprises related to the medical industry have also formed mature business models, they said.
According to a recent report from online healthcare website Vcbeat.top, use of AI in China's healthcare sector is expected to generate a business of 30 billion yuan ($4.5 billion) this year, on the back of a compound annual growth rate in excess of 40 percent over the past five years.
Shi Anjie, a research fellow at VCBeat Research, an industry research organization, said, "In the past decade, China's medical AI industry has experienced rapid growth, and AI enterprises have been able to form a relatively mature business model."
He said before 2018, AI was used mostly in installation of software in hospitals or in cooperation with pharmaceutical enterprises and was far from commercialization.
"The AI firms specializing in the medical and healthcare fields were growing somewhat wildly. Developers of AI products for the medical industry had no relevant background. The products they designed were misaligned with real medical needs. This created a lot of room for improvement," Shi said.
At that time, cooperation in scientific research became the main business mode of AI enterprises in the field. Enterprises set up thesis teams to help doctors from the imaging department and information department to finish their theses. Hospitals offered clinical data to AI enterprises so that they could fine-tune the AI products, enhance their algorithms and make them intuitive and intelligent.
With increased cooperation with hospitals, AI enterprises started to understand hospitals' real needs, and redeveloped products. Medical experts entered AI enterprises, enabling integration of internet-based AI technology and clinical medicine.
"Years of sustained efforts helped AI products to evolve in the medical field as technology enterprises realized that simply launching products in hospitals won't generate stable income. From cooperation in scientific research, focus shifted to bidding and purchasing next," Shi said.
IMPORTED COLD FOOD LIKELY CULPRIT IN BEIJING CLUSTER
Cold-chain food contamination is a likely cause of the recent COVID-19 resurgence in Beijing, according to a research paper by medical authorities and universities published in the National Science Review last week.
The paper said Beijing's June cluster of novel coronavirus infections probably originated in high-risk overseas areas. It added that cold-chain transportation could become the new route of transmission.
On June 11, a patient was found to be associated with the Xinfadi wholesale market, which sells fruit, meat and vegetables in Beijing. That case broke the city's 56-day string with no new confirmed local cases.
The authorities immediately launched a major round of coronavirus tests for people who had been to the market, as well as for food items sold there
Up to five salmon samples tested positive, including one sample whose unopened packaging was contaminated.
HIGH-SPEED RAILWAY TO OFFER QUIET CARRIAGE SERVICE
The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, one of China's busiest high-speed rail lines, will launch a quiet carriage service to provide passengers with a quieter, more comfortable traveling experience, according to the country's railway operator.
The service is expected to start trial operation as early as Dec 23 with no specific regulations released yet, said China State Railway Group. Passengers who are willing to follow protocols would be able to choose the quiet carriages when purchasing train tickets on 12306.cn-the official train ticket booking system.
The 1,318-kilometer railway linking the capital with the eastern coastal economic hub has handled over 1 billion passenger trips as of last September since starting operation in June 2011.
Zhang Xiaodong, an associate professor of rail transport at Beijing Jiaotong University, said passengers won't be allowed to put their phones, laptops or tablets on speaker, and they will have to switch their phones to vibrate or silent mode. For those who have to make phone calls, they will be required to take them in the hallway.
The train attendants will be responsible for dissuading people from misbehaving to ensure the carriage remains quiet and cozy, he added.
Yin Jin, who works for a consulting firm in Beijing and is also a regular high-speed rail passenger, is among a large number of people who are more than thrilled to welcome the quiet carriage service.
Yin has to work during most of his train trips, and if he's lucky, he can sometimes take a nap. Both activities demand a relatively quiet environment, but Yin said he has often been disrupted by either loud, short video music or people shouting into their mobiles.
"With the quiet carriage as an option, I can enjoy some peaceful time on the train with people who have the same idea," he said. "I hope the company will soon promote the service to all the high-speed lines to benefit more people."
Though the service is an attempt to meet travelers' demands for peace and quiet, one expert said that such an environment should be offered in all carriages.
Yang Hongshan, a professor of public governance at Renmin University of China, said that the silent carriage might give people the impression that they don't need to be quiet in non-silent carriages.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss. - Ralph Waldo Emerson